Kathy Bates stood in the doorway, surveying the room. Normally, the residents of Limberlost Lodge would be outside, enjoying the gardens. But because it was such a hot day, they were inside, where it was cooler. Some were reading, some writing, others playing various games, or just talking in small groups. All, that is, except for Jane Doe. She sat, as she had since first she was brought in; body limp in the armchair, head resting on the back, turned slightly toward the window, arms resting on the chair arms, face and eyes completely blank.
It was mid-June now. She had been found wandering along a country road in late December, dressed only in a jogging suit and sneakers, freezing in the snow storm. The only identification found on her was a gold heart shaped locket with two pictures inside. One was of a handsome dark haired young man, the other two young children, a boy with her colouring and a girl with the man’s. Showing her the pictures had elicited no response, so it was placed around her neck again, in hopes that someday it would.
For a month, she had been in hospital while they did what they could. The pneumonia was gone, but they had been unable to cure or find the cause of the amnesia. It was decided to move her to the Lodge where she could be cared for, and she had been there for six months, unchanging, a limp marble statue.
As Kathy stood at the door, an aide came in with a trolley holding jugs of cold drinks, glasses, snacks and serviettes. Kathy walked over to the aide as she started working her way around the room. “Hello, Sue. Let me have Jane’s drink, and I’ll see how much I can get down her.” Sue smiled and filled a glass with cold fruit juice, gave it to Kathy, and said “I hope you can get her to drink it all. She needs it today.” Kathy nodded. “Yes, it’s hot today.” She went to Jane Doe’s chair, and bent over so that Jane could see her. Taking Jane’s face in one hand, she tipped it a bit, and smiled. “Jane, dear, I have a nice cold drink for you,” she said softly. “It is so hot…” Suddenly Jane stiffened, sat straighter, her face alive and her eyes focused on Kathy’s face.
“Hot…hot…” she seemed to be searching for something, another word perhaps. Then, slowly, the face and eyes went blank, and she sagged back into the chair, apathetic again. Kathy stood staring in shock. “Whatever caused that?” she murmured. “Why would she react like that to the word hot?” She shook her head in puzzlement, remembered the glass in her hand. Again she bent to Jane. “Here, dear, here’s a nice cold drink,” she said as she held the glass against the young woman’s lips.
Obediently, they opened, and Kathy carefully tipped the glass, allowing the liquid to flow slowly into the mouth. Patiently she continued to coax Jane to drink, until the glass was empty. She wiped Jane’s mouth, straightened, and stood contemplating her for a moment. She set the glass on the table beside the chair, and went off, to call several of the staff for a quick conference.
They all sat and stared in amazement when Kathy recounted what had happened. “This is the first sign of life since she was found, it must be a clue. Somehow, the word hot means a great deal to her, to penetrate as it did today. Perhaps, if we each try to use that word when we are talking to her, it will help bring back some memory. It’s worth a shot, anyway. Just occasionally slip in a reference to hot, and see what happens.”
The others all nodded, and began discussing the best way to go about it. They all
cared deeply about Jane Doe. Such a beautiful, well-kept young woman obviously must have a family wondering where she was, and what had happened to her. And if the man and children in the pictures were her husband and children, they must miss her terribly. Everyone wanted to help her get back her memories, and her life.